Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

From stack-firing to pyromania: medico-legal concepts of insane arson in British, US and European contexts, c. 1800-1913. Part 1

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jonathan Andrews

Downloads

Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


Abstract

This article surveys evolving and competing medico-legal concepts of pyromania and insane arson. Exploiting evidence from medical jurisprudence, medico-legal publications, medical lexicography and case histories, it seeks to explicate the key positions in contemporary professional debates concerning arson and mental derangement. A major focus is the application of the doctrines of moral and partial insanity, monomania, instinctive insanity and irresistible impulse to understandings of pyromania and insane arson. The limited extent to which mental defect provided a satisfactory diagnosis and exculpatory plea for morbid arson is also explored. Additionally, this article compares and contrasts contemporary debates about other special manias, especially kleptomania. Part 2 will be published in the next issue, History of Psychiatry 21(4). The second part of this paper explores deepening doubts about pyromania as a special insanity, British debates post-1890, and pyromania’s supplanting with the broader diagnostic category of insane incendiarism. It assesses the conceptual importance of revenge and morbid-motivations for arson, and the relationship of Victorian and Edwardian concepts of arson to more modern psychiatric research. The main objective is to ascertain the extent to which Victorian and Edwardian medico-psychologists and medical legists arrived at meaningful and workable definitions of criminal insanity linked to arson. It concludes by emphasizing the limitations, contentiousness and inconsistencies in the use of technical terms such as ‘pyromania’, contrasted with the qualified success of authorities in arriving at more viable and broadly acceptable explanations of insane firesetting.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Andrews J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: History of Psychiatry

Year: 2010

Volume: 21

Issue: 3

Pages: 243-260

Print publication date: 01/09/2010

ISSN (print): 0957-154X

ISSN (electronic): 1740-2360

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957154X09349705

DOI: 10.1177/0957154X09349705

Notes: Article published in two parts: part 1 published in volume 21(3), pp.243-260 September 2010 and part 2 published in volume 21(4), pp.387-405 December 2010. DOI for Part 1: 10.1177/0957154X09349705 DOI for Part 2: 10.1177/0957154X09349706


Altmetrics

Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Actions

Find at Newcastle University icon    Link to this publication


Share